The 15th edition of the Montreal en Lumière festival ran from Feb 18 – 27. This arts festival sets the city alight with cuisine, music, dance and theatre and this year, featured Switzerland as its focus foreign country.
Les Roches International School of Hotel Management was invited to participate in the festival and organize the Swiss cuisine evening at the prestigious Restaurant de l’Institut (ITHQ), one of Canada’s leading culinary arts schools.
The evening was envisaged by the ITHQ as an exchange of savoir-faire among professionals and students in cuisine, service and sommellerie, as well as a transfer of Swiss expertise to Québec.
With the support of sponsors including Lindt, Victorinox and Swiss Air. Les Roches chef Jean-Michel Evequoz and service instructor Sylvie Fornage flew over to orchestrate the event.
The challenge was not an easy one: create a menu with all the influences from Swiss German, Italian and French cuisine, but using as many locally-sourced products as possible.
They had the support of a team of 10 professional culinary arts students and 5 service students, all in the final stages of their studies. They portrayed great level of passion and friendliness during the whole experience.
The week was extremely enlightening thanks to the sharing of knowledge and experience about the various cultural differences between Europe and North America.
During the first two days of Montréal en Lumière, the dining room was run by the service students along with the help of a professional team who oversaw the running of the show, together with Ms Fornage, Monsieur Pelven, the Maitre d’Hôtel and Mrs.Castravelli, the Sommellerie teacher. The service students organised a fabulous demo of Flambé in the hall of the Hotel at the beginning of the week, with the able assistance of Monsieur Pelven.
The evening was an animated affair, filled with stories regarding the origins of various products such as the saffron of Mund, the wines chosen for the menu and many more; all together it portrayed a virtual visit of Switzerland along with its traditions and expertise.
In Canada, according to Jean-Michel and Mathias Theau (executive chef from ITHQ) there is an incredible generation of young chefs willing to dynamically trying to create an identity for North American culinary arts. In Montréal we found almost all kinds of ingredients for cooking European dishes; although the standard and quality of ingredients is still nourishing they can’t quite match the quality of the ones sourced in Europe. Hence, Canadian chefs are creating recipes with a lot of ingredients to achieve their goals, compared to European chefs who have the chance to access regional products with a greater culinary ‘value’.
Jean-Michel says ‘I had a really good experience with the students from ITHQ who soon will become professional chefs and it made me reflect on the amazing results we achieve with our “Les Roches” students who spend only few week in practical duties’.
The Swiss evening was a sell-out success. Great comments were received! Looking at the menu, it’s easy to see why:
For Les Roches Service Instructor Sylvie Fornage, her key highlights included the people of Montréal, who were extremely hospitable and placed a lot of importance on communication skills – an important aspect of relationship building. She also valued how the whole team – despite the cultural differences between Europe and North America – got along so well, thanks to being part of the same industry: hospitality.
And she also enjoyed the chance to discover and learn about Canadian wine and amazing local products from Montréal, something which surely resonates with ‘Les Roches way of life’.
Pictures courtesy of ITHQ